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How to Save Money on Book Printing

Printing

August 31, 2020

The top 10 ways to save.

Apart from having a squeaky clean manuscript, these are the top 10 ways you can save money when self-publishing your book.

1. Choose the best printing process for your needs. For example, if your book is color and the print run is small, you will want to go print on demand. Or, if you know you will need over 300 books, you may want to consider offset printing. When printing under 700 books, digital book printers are usually best. If you are printing between 700 to 2000 books, you may want to price both options to see if you see savings of one process over the other. Offset printing is usually best if you are printing more than 2,000 books.

2. Black and white will always cost less than color.
First of all, color is overrated. That is on the interior of your book. And often, if the photos are from different sources, black and white can even present better, which helps to create a visual unity throughout the book.

3. Choose a productive trim size.
Some book sizes use paper more efficiently than others creating much less waste. Square books tend to waste the most paper because they do not fit productively on a parent sheet. Parent sheets are the oversized sheets of paper that come from the paper mill. Horizontal books can also be more wasteful. Before committing to a size, you should talk to your printer and definitely get estimates on the dimensions you are considering, especially if the dimensions are non-standard.

4. Give yourself time.
Plan time for printing, proofing, and shipping, so you do not have to pay rush charges and pay more for expedited printing or shipping.

5. Avoid making changes to the printer’s proofs.
Not only will the printer charge for changes, but so will your designer. And it is not just for the text change, but the time to export the files to the printer’s specifications. Before sending your book to print, thoroughly proof it. And then have someone else proof it again. It is common not to see mistakes when we know what we meant to say.

6. Shipping can add up.
If you are printing on demand, order books in boxed quantities rather than individually. Paying for a box will always cost less than shipping books a few at a time.

7. Consider signatures.
Early in the design, ask your printer what size signatures they will be printing your book. It is much simpler to remove a couple of pages before finalizing your book. And it can save you money. See my stop-motion video visually explaining book signatures.

8. Use the printer’s house paper.
Typically printers carry a “house sheet,” which is a paper they stock in-house. Not only do they get a quantity discount, but they also are familiar with the sheet. Their familiarity makes it more predictable and easier to handle, and less expensive for you.

9. Communicate clearly.
Make sure you are on the same page with your printer.  If you make changes to your order, make sure you communicate those changes to the printer, and that they acknowledge the change. You may be disappointed if you just assume the printer saw the change communicated in your e-mail. Get confirmation.

10. Consider image resolution.
Avoid file rejection. Make sure all the images are a high enough resolution to print.

Choosing the best process for your needs up front is the easiest way to save money when self-publishing, and it’s best to decide before you ever start designing your book. Take some time and seriously consider how many books you will need. Many self-publishers choose digital and later find that they needed a few hundred more books to give to contributors and for book promotion. If you are close to benefiting from offset printing, you may want to do a little research or send out a survey to your mailing list if you have one, or organizations you belong to that may be interested in your book to see if you can get pre-orders. Additionally, if you have a bunch of pre-orders, but don’t want to house an inventory of your books yourself, you may even want to print both offset and digitally and use digital for online fulfillment.

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